Field Sobriety Tests in Mooresville

If you have been pulled over for a traffic violation, the police officer may ask you to take some field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are somewhat subjective tests that are performed on the side of the road at the location of the traffic stop. The purpose of FSTs is to determine the level of physical or cognitive impairment. In other words, the officer uses these tests to decide whether a person might be driving while impaired as a result of the use of drugs or alcohol.

When an officer asks you to participate in field sobriety tests, it may be in your best interest to decline. These tests are not a requirement but rather a request. Depending on the results of the FSTs, the officer may request that you take a breath test to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). There are a variety of standard field sobriety tests in Mooresville.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

There are several common types of FSTs that are utilized by law enforcement in Mooresville and across the state of North Carolina. It is important to realize that in addition to how well you perform the tests, the officer will also watch to see whether you are able to follow instructions. Sometimes the instructions are unclear or are provided so quickly that you may not even understand the tests before you start performing them.

These FSTs were established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

This may be the first test that officers perform to determine the recent use of drugs or alcohol. During the test the police officer will ask you to follow a light with your eyes without moving your head. The test allows officers to view the movements of your eyes. Side-to-side jerking motions may be an indication that a person is impaired. The eyes should normally track the light in a smooth motion.

There are no set measurements in place for verifying the results of a Nystagmus test. It is up to the officer to perform the test properly and to make an evaluation of the results. While the officer’s camera may capture some of the tests, this particular test is difficult to see on camera.

Walk and Turn Test

Most people are familiar with this FST. The officer will ask you to walk a straight line while observing your performance. There are, however, some stipulations that you must follow. The officer will give you the instructions before you begin. You must keep your hands at your sides and take a specific number of steps in a heel to toe fashion. At the end of the designated number, usually nine steps, you are supposed to turn around and return in the same manner.

This test can be confusing or difficult for a number of reasons. There is not always an actual line to follow. If not, the officer will ask you to pretend that there is a straight line in front of you. Another thing that can throw you off is counting out loud. If you fail to count or do not take the correct number of steps, the officer may feel that you are impaired.

One Leg Stand

The one leg stand is an FST that requires you to stand on one leg for a period of time. The officer will show you how to perform the test. In general, you will need to hold one leg out in front at about eight inches off the ground while you count. Often, you may be required to count to 30. While this test is designed to measure balance, it can actually be a difficult test, even for those who are not impaired.

Contact an Experienced Mooresville Attorney

If you have been charged with DWI, do not try to go it alone. It is almost always best to try to defend the charges. If convicted, you could face severe penalties that could cause problems in other areas of your life such as insurance coverage and your ability to hold a driver’s license. An experienced Mooresville DWI attorney will review all of the details of the case to determine how to proceed. If an FSTs were given improperly, or the law enforcement officer was unclear, or something else went wrong, it could be useful in fighting your case.

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we understand DWI cases and know how to defend them. Each case is different but there may be some options available to reduce your charges or defend them. We work hard to fight for your rights. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to schedule a consultation.